Chat Leftovers:


Firm, glossy, taut-skinned eggplants aren’t likely to be bitter. (Julia Ewan/The Washington Post)
February 5, 2013

Us? Bitter about Valentine’s Day?

Well, yes. But in a good way. You’ll understand when you read about Kate Parham and her search for a less saccharine — yet still romantic! — V-Day dinner. Chef Michael Friedman came up with dishes showcasing bitter foods, and you heard it here first: they are terrific.

As is the fetching Coeur a la Cremesicle , brainchild of Cathy Barrow, who created the heart-shaped dessert combining soft cheese and — here we go again — tart citrus curd that’ll make you pucker up for sure.

Also on the sour side are Marcy Goldman’s sponge-starter breads. They’re neither difficult nor time-consuming, — a lot like sourdough, but not as much work.

Goldman, by the way, will be joining us for today’s Free Range chat, our weekly interactive hour with readers. Bring us your culinary questions — we start at noon sharp, but you can follow the link above and post queries earlier — and we’ll do our best to answer them.

For example, here’s a leftover question from last week’s chat. And in keeping with today’s theme, it’s a question about bitterness.

A few weeks ago, in response to a question about the necessity (or not) of salting eggplant before using it for eggplant Parmigiana, it was suggested that smaller eggplants are less bitter than their larger counterparts. By smaller, was that intended to mean the tiny Italian eggplants, or just smaller-in-size eggplants found in the produce section?

We meant the latter: the younger, often smaller specimens of the familiar purple variety. At the market, those will be the shiny, taut-skinned, dark purple eggplants that feel firm and heavy. As Tim Carman explained in his response, when you give them a gentle poke with a finger, they’ll be resilient but not super-hard. The older and softer eggplants get, the more bitter they are likely to be.

In truth, everything I read says that American growers have done a lot over the years to breed the bitterness out of eggplants. That doesn’t mean you’ll never get stuck with a bitter one; it just means that if you buy wisely, you’re far less likely to get a dud.

Speaking of eggplant Parmesan, we have an excellent recipe here that you might want to try, and another really interesting one for Eggplant Parmigiana Lasagna. Another great dish that’s in my refrigerator right now, in the form of leftovers that will be vanishing soon: Spicy Braised Eggplant With Prunes, made in a slow-cooker. The prunes melt away and the eggplant turns silky and flavorful.

For more eggplant recipes, always turn to our Recipe Finder. Every recipe on the site has been tested by us, so you know it works.


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